KM Asia 2013

KM Asia 2013

by Madanmohan Rao
Editor, The KM Chronicles
Singapore, Nov 12-14

I am back again in Singapore for one of my favourite annual knowledge management conferences, KM Asia! I will be conducting a workshop on KM Maturity Models on Thursday ( See some of my posts from earlier conferences (

Here are my tweetnotes, will massage them into a Top Ten Takeaways piece later! In addition to the sessions, it’s always great to meet the delegates, this time from Singapore, Malaysia, India, Russia, etc.!

Logging in now from Knowledge Management Asia 2013 in #Singapore! #KMasia #KM #KMers

My Ark Group report: Next Generation KM: Insights and Practice for Resilient Organisations #KMasia

My new KM book (gov, public sector): KM Initiatives in #Singapore – with Prof. Margaret Tan #KMasia

I. Nancy Dixon

The first era is Leveraging Explicit Knowledge and is about capturing documented knowledge and making it readily available – connecting people to content. The second category is about Leveraging Experiential Knowledge and it gave rise to communities of practice and reflection processes. It is primarily focused on tacit knowledge and connects people to people. The third category is Leveraging Collective Knowledge and it is about integrating ideas from multiple perspectives to create new knowledge and innovation. In the third era, management values the sensemaking capabilities of employees, that is, the ability of employees to jointly make sense of complex situations.

Nancy describing evolution of KM: Pre-1995 (training). 1995 onwards – Drucker – “Knowledge is an asset we need to manage”
Some people don’t like the notion of “managing” knowledge, but we seem stuck with the term KM
Era 1: explicit knowledge, content Era 2: experiential/tacit knowledge, CoPs, reflection, expertise locators, project engineering Era 3: collective knowledge, sensemaking, complexity
Era 1: Connect people to content. Warehouse of stable useful info. Now we know knowledge keeps changing
Explicit knowledge focus lead to standardisation of practices, reduction in duplication of effort
Books of Era 2 (p2p): Social life of Information, Common Knowledge, Communities of Practice, Knowing-Doing Gap
Era 2 – KM results were better: productivity enhancements, reducing of silo effects across organisations.
Era 2 limitations – only lateral movement of knowledge, largely tactical, mostly frontline (not vertical), and no creation of new knowledge
GM had great KM but went bankrupt. So KM has to focus on difficult problems, get past key challenges
Books of Era 3: The Difference (cognitive diversity – beyond identity diversity), Black Swan, Wisdom of Crowds, Leadership without Easy Answers
Leaders convene conversations but do not control content or outcome. Interdisciplinary creation of new knowledge. No single heroes. Need insights
Collective sensemaking – conversational event, varied disciplines. Focus on complexity
Nancy describes her appreciative inquiry approach, open space, and future search, for her client Huawei
60% of my work is in Era 2 approaches to KM, now Era 3 work is increasing. Ask yourself which Era your work chiefly addresses
Activity 1: Post-its: Idea Management (analytical knowledge), Experience management (tacit knowledge), Info management (explicit knowledge)
Thanks to my publisher for promoting my new KM book here! (KM in gov, public sector in #Singapore)
Discussion at my table: newer companies with fresh KM initiatives can be way ahead of legacy orgs/initiatives! Strategy focus, tools
Discussion at my table: KM has been sexy and turf grab has started – learning department, CIO, strategy, marketing, etc!
Activity wraps up, Nancy asks for table reports. Stunned gasp from audience as she says table reports can be boring sometimes, hah hah!
Nancy: Depending on how you use it, #Wiki as a tool can fit into all three Eras of KM (glossary, projects, collaboration)
Singapore Power: We started off with CoPs for best practices as well as new practices. Quality improvement groups for each customer
Singapore Power: We have moved beyond availability of power to assurance of high quality power (is #Bangalore listening? ;-)

II. David Snowden
“Beyond Big Data, or the Limits of Silicon Over Carbon”
Hear hear! Nancy: David Snowden is regarded as a provocateur, I don’t always agree with his blogs!
David Snowden: I am a ‘constructive irritant!’
Through the decades I’ve maintained that KM is about decision making and innovation
I know a company which had three KM initiatives, each failed and they went on to become KM consultants!
The key to KM is human sensor networks, important at the national level in regions like Middle East. Also rapid sensor mechanisms for companies
The data hype has gone through cycles. Data warehouses – 1980s. Human sensors – post 9/11. Now – big data.
Don’t assume you can replace human networks with big data. Doesn’t apply for pre-emptive work. Need to know difference between what and why
Stasi of east Germany had formidable network of human sensors, beyond what machines can do!
Silicon is not the same thing as carbon. Augmentation is not the same as replacement
Humans and technology can work in complimentary focus areas, need to understand the differences and balances. Ref: Mary Douglas.
Human brains’ focus: pattern entrainment & first fit satisficing. KM should not be aimed at making human beings autistic!
NLP is a pseudo-science, but still popular – I find that deeply disturbing, can’t put people in boxes like that
For some skills (eg driving), it takes years for body-mind coordination to evolve into an automatic habit
Autonomic v/s novelty receptive: success can blind you to the new thing – see Microsoft, IBM
Embodied: extra-neural; embedded: scaffolding; enacted: co-evolve with reality; extended: into the environment
David jokes that he once did research at IBM which showed that astrology was a better predictor than Myers-Brigss indicators!
David jokes that he’s lost weight because of bicycling, but some people think I have cancer!
Take a trail snapshot of the apps you use in a day, and you get a sense of modern-day augmentation via tech
Art = the secret tool for improving business. Abstraction, art, poetry are key to understanding and success
What about proverbs? Some of my work is on metaphor-based command and communication languages for military
If you align people, you lose diversity, differences and tension which is importance for collective sensemaking during strategic surprise
See what happened during the financial crisis when bonuses were aligned with shareholder expectations: devastating
Narratives affect architecture and should shape design of space
Social computing: shift from applications to architectures and object/people interaction

III. Brigitte Ireland, Global Knowledge Awareness & Adoption Leader and Asia-Pacific Knowledge Leader, EY, Hong Kong: “From knowledge practitioner to business advisor” We have 167,000 people in 140 countries. 50% under age of 30. Highly mobile. Need flexibility, media tools
Survey: KM helps open up new markets, improve profits, develop new goods/services, deepen client engagement, more innovation, improve insights, create a more dynamic culture
CEO cares about KM for strategic business impacts, eg. sales process (understanding client issues, build relationships, be aligned)
Brigitte shows 2X2 Holden International’s Power Matrix for Influence v/s Authority. eg. on social media
Advice – don’t sell KM, sell solutions. Indentify wants as well as needs. Understand social styles, avoid jargon

IV. Ron Young, Chief Knowledge Officer, Knowledge Associates, UK: Achieving Knowledge Driven Results, Developing knowledge driven mindsets

Cambridge University celebrates 800 years of education and knowledge mission
I have been working with Asian Productivity Organisation, download their books free (new one: KM for the Public Sector). Also check out 2011 World Bank Knowledge Report
Ron jokes that people today don’t have time for time management! 5 wives and 1 husband = 5 Ws and 1 H of learning!
1980s: time management. 1990s: info management. 2000s: KM. 2010s: social enterprise 2020s: co-creation
Dimensions of KM (4X4 matrix) – communication, collaboration, process, creation/innovation. Map across individuals, groups, organisations, society
Even 5% improvement in organisation’s communication capability leads to improvement in performance
Co-creation of products, services and experiences with customers and partners is the pinnacle of KM

V. Dr Devsen Kruthiventhi, Head, Knowledge Management, Learning & Development and Employee Communication, Tata Projects, and former Head, KM, Tata Chemicals, India: “Harmonising Your KM Strategy with Business Strategy for Improved Leadership Engagement”

KM has helped us change and adapt to the market. Our KM vision – create a culture of systematically harvesting and sharing knowledge
KM pillars – process, systems, cartographic (knowledge mapping), commercial (exploiting IP)
KM components in Tata – strategic themes, KM risk management, 5-year action plans, KM calendar, individual goals/roles
We branded our KM initiative as Titli (butterfly – metaphor to capture variations, differences and shelf-life of knowledge)
Devsen narrates incident of how he as executive officer approached blue-collar worker to discuss his knowledge contributions and insights
We have real-life and online knowledge cafes to create the necessary conversations and sharing
Tata has structured knowledge capture methods for retiring employees. Other avenues: relationship captures/extensions
KM awards – Individual and Group. For cafes, innovation, CoPs, connectors, KM Day, annual K Fair, BEEP (benchmark every process)
Tata Chemicals’ KM Meter – KM Maturity Model (6 dimensions, 5 levels). Efficiency, effectiveness, metrics, innovation
Top benefits – functional competencies, productivity. Key challenges: reach out across all functions, making KM a way of life
Formula for KM success at Tata Chemicals: LASER– Learn Apply Share Enjoy Reflect

VI. Rajiv R. Sinha, Deputy General Manager, IT Services & Knowledge Management, L&T Hydrocarbon, Larsen & Toubro, India
“Engaging Front Line Managers to Embed KM in Business Processes”

LTH work is document-centric and collaborative in nature. Many contractors, consultants. Literally tons of paper docs, Gigs of memory
1999 onwards – Phase I: doc Phase II: humans Phase III: process (embedding KM, systematic interactions, co-creation)
LTH KM journey: 2001 – KnowNet portal launch. 2009: Lotus to Sharepoint 2010: Process-based KM
LTH KM pillars: leadership (board, senior+mid management), tech (tools, CoPs), people (R&R, training, communication)
KM branding via awards and rewards – Gyan Ratna, Gyan Bhushan, Gyan Vibhusan. Knownet Guru, Knownet Sisya
KM components: In-house journal, news bulletins, K-Webinar, eVidyalaya (elearning portal), 17 CoPs, project portals
We do assessment of KM based on MAKE framework every three years; user survey every two years.
RT @Danidelamorena Great practice at Larsen & Toubro Hydrocarbon: Every project team has dedicated Knowledge coordinator who receives K training

VII. Dr Ricky Tsui, Director and East Asia Region R&D Leader, Arup, Hong Kong:
“An Effective Engaging KM Practice to Drive Corporate Innovation”
Arup is a global firm of designers, engineers, planners and business consultants, the creative force behind many of the world’s most innovative and sustainable projects and new design technologies, delivered by over 11,000 colleagues from 90 offices in 35 countries. Arup has established an effective KM framework for more than ten years. KM is the critical enabler for innovation and business success. Arup is the three-time Asian Most Admired Knowledge Enterprise (MAKE) Winner and the three-time Hong Kong MAKE TOP Winner.

Arup knowledge cycle: Arup Univ, R&D, knowledge assets (essentials, projects, networks, insights). Knowledge Handbook, Corporate Yellow Page
KM helps with collaborative research with external partners; discussion forum with colleagues across the world, instant messaging
Company sponsors PhD programs at local universities, has faculty partnerships. Cultivate creative minds (design thinking)
We have venture capitalists who train us on future trends, adaptation. Design schools help with collective sensemaking in innovation
We have cool ‘Penguin Pool Events’ for exchange of ideas with the design community
Build trust, provide convenient exchange platforms. Provide training. Understand future needs and learn from others

VIII. Cheryl Teh Su Meng, Vice President Knowledge Management, Khazanah Nasional, Malaysia
“KM: The People Behind the Scenes: KM Skills and Career”
KM fits into strategy, corporate services, HR, IT. Roles: change agent, content writer, analyst, event planner, project management
More companies are starting to recognise the need for KM, new kinds of KM roles being created. Demand > Supply
Advice – read a lot of books, not just KM! Case studies, fiction; also movies, arts. Connect the dots, be a problem solver
Advice – either be a specialist or a ‘specialised generalist.’ Be fluid, move around and learn from your experiences
Cheryl asking attendees to identify their ‘unusual’ backgrounds – musicians, nuclear engineers, aerospace, media, fashion designers, lawyers, DJs!
Me: Knowledge management is more like jazz than classical music! It’s about the jam, just go in the right direction even if you don’t know the outcome! #KM

RT @leahdarby On the wall are the posters created from Nancy Dixon’s session at – there are 16 of these, 1 for each table!

IX. David Gurteen: Knowledge Cafes for Engaging People
Daniel Pink: Rewards/incentives work for routine basic work, not for innovative/creative work – need new incentives, eg. autonomy, more independence, support for mystery, plugging them into a sense of purpose and doing something that matters – they like to go against mainstream nature/work

X. Dave Snowden, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Cognitive Edge, UK
“Handling Asymmetrical Threat in Industry or Government”
KM is about doing real things in real time with real people. Granularity is key in KM, knowledge is fragmented by nature
Need a coherence framework rather than a grand vision for KM; build on small projects
Governments should manage asymmetric threats (eg. terrorism) in an asymmetric way (small measures not just big ones)
Accept the possibility of failure early, don’t be caught unawares. Resilience is about survival and change
What’s more important about scenario planning is the analysis rather than the actual scenarios
Typical errors made: confusing correlation with causation; assuming that good corporate practices of the past will always work in future
Map of event frequency v/s size. Gaussian world: probable, possible, plausible. Pareto world: inductive (hypothesis), abductive (non-hypothesis)
What you learn from your field notebooks is more useful than a formal case study written later
Mess and messiness is important in understanding the way humans work and make sense
Hindsight re-shapes the way you view and interpret events in the past. Successful teams describe events differently than those who failed
Micro-narratives are the basis of human sense-making. Water cooler stories are more effective than workshop stories
Your real impressions of work are not in what you say at the workplace but what you say about it to your friends later
Distributed ethnography: human sensor networks are scaleable at very low cost
In Colombia, children’s diaries about their parents’ work reveal good insights to government about micro-economic policy and initiatives
Create a ‘messy’ network: KM should enable field capture of fragments, eg. to detect micro-anomalies.
Leverage people’s communication to create narrative-enhanced doctrine and best practices
Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink is one of the worst books ever written! Though Tipping Point was good
Crowds can be wise – but also stupid. Surowiecki: need diversity, independence, decentralisation, aggregation
Having a stake in the outcome changes the way you participate in an initiative
Aim for wisdom of crowds – but beware of the tyranny of the herd
Human networks: deliberative networks created for ordinary purposes, activated for extraordinary need
Learn how to activate a network using ordinary methods to tackle an issue for extraordinary means
KM tends to eliminate outliers, but they are actually a threat or an opportunity.
#Jugaad? Snowden: Exaptation is key for human innovation: taking something create for one purpose and using it for another
@snowded: Find the connections from peer to peer, from fragment to fragment. That is how you tap human awareness in an organisation/society
Snowden: Hopefully KM can help tap emerging social technologies to truly improve human decision making on a better scale
Human meta-data is key in interpreting text, not just machine meta-data.

XI: Jason Christopher Chan, Covering Head & Lead, Capability Development, RAHS Solutions Centre, National Security Coordination Secretariat, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore
“Needs and benefits of social media monitoring: Collection, sense-making and reporting”
Gov and social media: (i) gov-community relations (ii) disaster response (iii) security research & analysis
Benefits of monitoring different kinds of social media: evidence, realtime updates, co-production, predictive modeling
Levels of government search: trawling, targeted mining, direct requests (meta data), direct requests (actual content)
I wonder what questions Jason will get at this conference, given Singapore’s tight controls over the Internet!
Jason: Three phases of social media monitoring by Singapore government: collection, sensemaking, reporting
My Q to Jason: What are your reactions to the hacking incidents of the Singapore government Website?
Jason: It was not anticipated; we are analysing the incident and monitoring social media discussions. It may be a trend: external influences in local community

XII: Mariette Peters Goh, Partner, Zul Rafique & partners, Malaysia
“Tea or Technology? The Role of KM in a Law Firm – Face-to-face or Facebook?”
I attended KM Asia 10 years ago, that began the KM journey for our law firm. KM scope: research, training, KM, bizdev, events, content writing
We have two fulltime lawyers doing only KM. Lawyers need to know the law + know where/how to look for updates, resources, innovate
Law is a profession as well as a business. Lots of documented knowledge, as well as tacit (in lawyers). Tacit can make or break your case – eg. idiosyncracies of judges!
Our KM initiative is called LOOK (Leverage on our Knowledge). Outcome – briefs, newsletters, tapping experiences & enlightenment
We had a KL judge who hated pink highlighting in documents, only yellow highlighting – made or broke a case!
Lawbooks don’t tell you about EQ issues in clients, only law firm’s tacit knowledge can capture this.
Other issues: which client is vegetarian! That can help in the pitch when you take them out for lunch
Lawyers are reluctant to share their knowledge. Lawyers are like ET! We are extraterrestrial (territorial!), may not be adorable!
Does Gen Y prefer tech (social media) to tea (face to face interaction)? Express knowledge is good over tech, tacit better F2F
Lawyers have time for drinks in the pub but not for tea! I started monthly discussions with knowledge-friendly senior lawyers
First Friday of the month – KISSing Session in the Boardroom! KISS = Knowledge Information Sharing Sessions
Never been KISSed – the name for those who have never attended the KISS session!
How people call KM – one-stop shop, lifesaver, know it all, agony aunt, whip cracker, glorified librarian, dumpsite!
Key to succeeding in KM in the long run: Engage, Enlighten, Enrich
A pleasure and delight to hear the brilliant, humourous and charming Mariette, a lawyer (!)
I wonder if they serve Hershey’s KISSes at the KM sessions in Zul Rafique!

XIII: Kelvin Soh, Social Intranet Manager, Group Centre of Operational Excellence, SingTel, Singapore
“SingTel ESPRESSO: Brewing an Exciting Flavour in Enterprise Social Networking”
‘ESPRESSO’ is an ESN initiative for the SingTel Group to connect all 23,000 staff across the globe
SingTel is world’s second largest mobile operator (number of subscribers). No.1 – China Mobile
Even with all the tech in the world many organisations can’t solve the key problems in time
KM can go beyond just Intranet/doc tracking to enterprise social networking – bridge tools and people
Soh of Singtel jokes that he did not undergo Espresso training at Starhub (= Starbucks!)
KM = WIN: Wisdom, Insights, eNlightenment. Wisdom of all our 12,000 employees.
Branding – KM portal launch was on 11/11/11; $11 prizes for winners in competitions
23,000 employees on Espresso platform. 10.5K visitors daily, 7,000 conversations, 1,400 collaboration sites, 56,000 likes, 2,145 skillsets, 542 certifications, 99,300 coffee beans (gifts)
Social media audience classification: believers, advocates, lurkers, unknown
Top 10 Lessons learnt in 5 categories: Tech, usability, content, adoption, governance
1. Executive support. CEO and MD should be on board, don’t start otherwise
2. Branding and marketing is key. Lanyards, logos, posters, outreach, etc.
3. KM/ESN is not just an IT project (though IT support is key)
4. Be open-minded. HR policies may need to change; criticism/feedback can come online, can the departments respond in time?
5. Be realistic. Conversations take time to take off and become useful, RoI takes a while; years sometimes. Not all conversations will be about work
6. Invest in resources
7. Go Mobile! mEspresson (like Nespresso). Most of our workers are on the road
8. Gamification. Use elements of our metaphor coffee: points = coffee beans
9. Nurture champions, change agents (“baristas”)
10. Make the social UI visual and familiar

XIV. Tan Hui Cher, Senior Manager and Lee Kian Teck, Manager, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), Singapore
Enterprise Social Networks and KM: Discovery, Serendipity, Conversations, UX
IDA KM Vision: build on the brainpower across all parts of the team
KM started in 2009 formally. Launch: 2010. Activities: IDAction workshops with key shareholders
KM roadmap (2X2 table): (i) build, enhance, expand, transform (ii) content, people, leadership, process, tech
We are currently between the ‘enhance’ and ‘expand’ stages
ESN lessons – useful content (valuable, current), integration with work processes, awareness activities
Workplace of the future: (1) Play, learn, grow (2) connect all staff across multiple dimensions/narratives (3) access to talent
Need to create a trusted environment to allow conversations and dialogue flourish
Once community conversation dropped after the CEO joined in, and people set up another private one!
Plan/design for different kinds of learning styles. Address intrinsic as well as extrinsic motivation
Discussion at my table: Many ESN people would not use the term KM to describe their work, though a lot of it is KM in principle
Discussion: Better metaphor for KM is the kitchen, not the dining room!

XV: Vadim Shiryaev, President, SOMAR, and Partner, KM Alliance, Russia and Alena Zaytseva, Head of Knowledge Management Department, Corporate University of Russian Railways, Russia
Russian Railways: Third largest railway network in the world; 1B+ passengers per year. Values: skills, integrity, innovation
Vadim and Alena: Training in blogging has helped Russian entrepreneurs understand the market and launch new businesses
RT @snowded Filing out forms
Some principles of successful cocreation: Shared purpose (meeting opportunity/threat), alignment, agreement on ownership
Good to see academics and industry working together on the KM front, bravo!

XVI: Senior Lieutenant Colonel (SLTC) Vincent Yap, Commander Air Warfare Training Institute and Head Training Development Group, Air Force Training Command, Republic of Singapore Air Force, Singapore
“Using Wiki-Based Learning Platform to Promote Collaborative Learning and Knowledge Capturing”
“AFTC Wiki has increased the training efficiency by reducing instructional time by 10-20% and making the renewal of training materials and content less tedious”
See for more info and post your comments there (back channel)
KM drivers – tech change, protocol evolution, increasing complexity, GenY attitudes towards authority/constructivism
Impacts – enhanced training efficiency and effectiveness, better sharing of research results, more creativity, new instructional strategies
My Q: How do you integrate Wiki with the other existing tools?
Yap: Integrates with courseware libraries and validation tools

XVII. Avi Kedem, IAI Chief Knowledge Officer, Israel Aerospace Industries, Israel
Knowledge Continuity: Keeping the Critical Know-How in the Organisation
In the US and Canada 20% of the workforce will retire in this decade. The tacit to explicit “structured” process preserves 5% of the expert’s knowledge which has a benefit of 75%
The process has four steps: mapping, documentation, performance support knowledge base, embedding tips and lessons
Two key aspects of knowledge continuity: (i) capturing expertise (ii) transfer/use of knowledge from retirees to other experts
Non-structured processes such as observation and apprenticeship have always existed; need new ones also for retiring/future experts
Success factors for knowledge retention: KM expert/consultant, facilitator, successor, process owner/manager, media team, time!

XVIII. Anthony Liew, Director, Capital Motors, Taiwan
Determining the Purpose of KM: A Value Creation Theory: The seven disciplines of value and value creation
Value = numerical value, monetary, appreciation, worthiness, belief (eg. right/wrong). Disciplines: finance, marketing, operations; economics, strategy, KM
Role of KM is to generate, amplify, accelerate value. Inside the organisation, as well as outside Rudolf: examples – Harley, Heineken, etc

XIX: Sunyoung Kim, Director General of Management Services Department, K-water, South Korea
Case Study: How Well-Structured KM has Contributed to the Company’s Value Creation
K-Water: Water for the happier world. Efficiency, knowledge capitalising, securing of core knowledge
KM mechanism: Idea excavation (WaterPedia, open suggestions), Strategic Task execution (BSC), Tools (CoP, R&D)
Open Idea Channel – get ideas from customers, partners. WaterPedia: 9,000 members; open to the public
Idea Excavation – a company won contest to develop water meter, led to innovative solution
KM – strategy linkage – respond to new gov policy on green growth. CoP created for R&D and commercialisation. Led to new photovoltaic system
We have an Innovation Festival every year. Exhibitions, presentations, awards. Management support: VP is CKO
Open Idea Channel – get ideas from customers, partners. WaterPedia: 9,000 members; open to the public
Idea Excavation – a company won contest to develop water meter, led to innovative solution
KM – strategy linkage – respond to new gov policy on green growth. CoP created for R


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